Stressed woman

Stress is prevalent among all of us. However, did you know that stress can affect fertility and pregnancy by making it less likely to get pregnant and increasing pregnancy complications? That is why coping with stress is important to improve your health, help you get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy. 

Does stress affect my fertility and my ability to get pregnant?

There are now many studies showing that stress can affect your chances of getting pregnant.

What ill effects does stress have on my unborn child?

Studies have consistently shown an increased risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriages and preterm births in women with increased stress levels.  In addition, studies have shown increased risks to their children such as more allergies and schizophrenia.

Stress during pregnancy can affect pregnancy in different ways. For example, stress has been linked to growth restriction, decreased bonding, and even preterm delivery.

Stress comes in many different forms and women cope with stress in different ways. Stress often prevents women to care for themselves which may mean not eating well or smoking and drinking alcohol. Stress also affects a woman’s immune system and thus the baby’s development.

Some findings have shown that during the first trimester and postpartum, stress is felt more deeply, or at least has a greater effect on physical factors. The second and third trimesters seem to be less affected by stress, although no one knows why this is.

Is there any way to know the effect on a child whose mother was under constant stress while pregnant?

Pregnancy in and by itself is stressful. Stress levels are often difficult to assess because there is no real blood test or other reliable tests to check on a woman’s stress levels. If a woman feels she is under stress, she should let her obstetrician know so it can be discussed and monitored during her pregnancy.

What can I do to safeguard my unborn child during periods of enormous stress?

Many women are normally under some form of stress during pregnancy whether it revolves around the baby’s well-being, personal relationship, job concerns, or other financial concerns. If a woman feels she is under excessive stress in pregnancy, her first step should be to let her obstetrician know. Obstetricians should also incorporate questions about stress as part of their regular evaluations.

It does not matter if you have planned your pregnancy and how wanted your child is. Either way you go, stress is going to hit you. Accepting that a stress-free pregnancy is not going to happen is the first step in making sure that you know how to handle the stress. The common stresses during pregnancy are the same you experience any other time, money, work, etc. with the added stress of making sure that you take care of yourself, and that you are prepared for when the baby comes.

Before you can appropriately handle the stress, you should first determine the cause of the stress, and do what you can to eliminate it from your life. If you cannot eliminate the cause entirely, try to develop a plan to tackle it so that it becomes less stressful. For example, if your stress is financial, create a budget, and sit down with your partner to make sure that it is a budget and plan that you can stick to. In the meantime, you’ll want to look at some healthy ways to handle stress.

Healthy ways to handle pregnancy stress

If stress has got you down, you can try several different things to help you feel better and keep it from negatively affecting your health and pregnancy. 

  • Talk it out. Find a person that you can trust and vent. Make sure that this person can help keep you positive and upbeat. 
  • Try a prenatal yoga class. Yoga promotes relaxation and clarity. It is also a good way to exercise during pregnancy. 
  • Try breathing exercises and meditation. This is a great way to relax. Breathing deeply in a quiet environment will help you get rid of the stress that is driving you crazy.
  • Get plenty of rest. Rest is important for everyone all the time and becomes even more important as your body is working overtime to take care of you and your unborn child.
  • Pamper yourself. Take lots of opportunities for candlelit bubble baths, massages, manicures and pedicures. Taking time for yourself is a great way to relieve stress and having a newborn child will certainly cut down on your time for yourself!  Stock up before the baby arrives.

Now that you have the tools you need to relieve your stress, you should put them to use whenever you see the chance. The more you use these techniques, the better off you are. The better off you are, the better off your unborn baby is. It is most definitely a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Some more stress-coping mechanisms include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Find a hobby
  • Pay attention to what you eat and keep it healthy
  • Get a regular whole-body massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Have your partner give you foot rubs
  • Have regular orgasms (unless contraindicated in pregnancy)
  • Write a daily journal
  • Take vacations or long weekends
  • Take regular naps - God's gift to a stressful life
  • Yoga
  • Meditation and other relaxation techniques
  • Consider making lifestyle and work changes
  • Try not to be so controlling about your life
  • Read, talk to friends, talk to your partner
  • Take walks, swim
  • If all is not enough, seek professional help

Read More:
Can Stress Stop You From Getting Pregnant?
Guide To Infertility: Why Can't We Get Pregnant?
Quiz: Is Your Fertility Affected By Stress?